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Episcopal Relief & Development receives grant to expand early childhood program

November 12, 2017

Episcopal Relief & Development announced that it has received a $1.4 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to expand its integrated Early Childhood Development program in Zambia and to extend the program into Kenya. The four-year grant will enable the organization and its local partners, Zambia Anglican Council Outreach Programmes and Anglican Church of Kenya Development Services, to impact 7,600 families including 14,880 children under the age of 3, many of whom are impacted by HIV/AIDS.

"We are extremely grateful for the continued partnership of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and its commitment toward early childhood development and vulnerable children," said Robert W. Radtke, president of Episcopal Relief & Development. "This generous grant recognizes the significance of our work and represents a strategic priority for Episcopal Relief & Development as we strengthen and expand the program in Zambia and Kenya."

Episcopal Relief & Development is the recipient of one of 17 grants made by the Hilton Foundation's Young Children Affected by HIV and AIDS Initiative in 2017, which is aimed at addressing the needs of families affected by the disease, particularly children ages 3 and under.

This is the third grant that Episcopal Relief & Development has received from the Hilton Foundation. In 2011, a $350,000 grant helped launch the ECD program which reached an estimated 4,000 families. In 2013, the organization was awarded a $1 million grant to help expand the program to serve 12,500 children. Episcopal Relief & Development and ZACOP celebrated the program's accomplishments at a forum held in Lusaka, Zambia in May.

The impact of the program has been transformational, changing how parents, particularly fathers, connect with their children on a deeper, more responsive level. It has trained 742 volunteers and engaged over 6,000 primary caregivers and almost 10,000 children under the age of 5. Parent-child activities which promote children's cognitive development skills more than doubled from 38 percent to 79 percent, motor skills increased from 43 percent to 79 percent, and social skills improved from 75 percent to 92 percent.

"Young children impacted by HIV/AIDS can now receive care that supports their health and development," said Felicia Sakala, ZACOP's country director in Zambia. "Our children and their families are much better served when we work within the family unit and share essential parenting practices which family members can easily adopt."

The new grant will support 60 new ECD programs in rural areas of Zambia and engage an estimated 14,400 children under 3 along with 7,200 primary caregivers. In Kenya, the Hilton Foundation grant will contribute to the new Kisumu County program which includes 400 parents or relatives and approximately 480 children under 3. The program will train volunteers, directly engage fathers and expand the focus on nutrition. An integral part of the ECD program includes research to develop information for best practices so that effective strategies may be utilized by a wide range of faith-based organizations and community development programs.

"Faith-based organizations perform a critical function in identifying and mobilizing community support for vulnerable children and their families," said Samuel Omondi, executive director of ADS-Nyanza in Kenya. "ADS-Nyanza will be creating a consortium of faith-based organizations to reach out to the entire community to participate in activities that stimulate and nurture our children."

Episcopal Relief & Development's Early Childhood Development programs fight poverty, hunger and disease and promote the health, development and financial well-being of families, and are designed to ensure that communities flourish. As part of the program, parents and primary caregivers share their experiences and ideas with each other, while children acquire knowledge to share with their own children when they, too, become parents.

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